New Life News: Tim & Pamela Smyth

Pamela was born into a military family and spent many years traveling and moving all over the world to follow her dad’s job before her parents divorced when she was 12. She accepted Jesus in middle school when a friend invited her to Falls Creek, a church camp near Turner Falls. At the young age of 17, Pamela moved away from her mom and brother to start a life of her own in New York but only lived there for about a year. Tim, on the other hand, grew up in the church and was raised in Philadelphia with his 4 older siblings. His dad led Youth for Christ and his mother was active in their church choir. When he was 12, his parents sold their catering business and moved to Orlando, Florida. As young adults, both Pamela and Tim found themselves working for a restaurant called the Pitman House in Dallas, Texas. They dated on and off for a few years before finally marrying and moving back to Orlando to care for Tim’s mother after his dad passed away. Over the years, they have moved all over Oklahoma and worked a variety of different jobs to make ends meet. Yet, what has continued to keep them going is their love for the Lord and for each other. When asked about his faith, Tim responds by saying, “I don’t worry about how things will work out because God opens up the door always. He always provides.” The Smyths experienced God’s faithfulness in a very practical way when Tim finished Radiology Technician School and a job miraculously opened up in Norman. Though this particular job was short lived, their move led him to his position of 12 years in Bethany as a Tech for the Children’s Center. Their bold transition to Norman 15 years ago served to grow their faith and plug them into the community at New Life. Even during Tim’s diagnosis with Stage 4 throat cancer last year, this couple continued to have a belief that was unshaken because of the foundation of Jesus Christ they had chosen to set their lives on. Pam’s positive outlook helped encourage her husband, even when he was at his weakest. “It took the illness to realize how blessed we really are,” she once said when looking back at this trying time in their lives. They had been invested at New Life ever since moving to Norman for Tim’s job, and the people they met through this church stepped up to help with physical, spiritual, and emotional needs during Tim’s treatments. Whether it was a phone call, homemade meal, prayers, or financial assistance, they felt so loved and cared for by the body of Christ choosing to love as Jesus would.

Now, Tim is in remission (praise God!) and you can find both Pamela and Tim faithfully serving as greeters here each Sunday morning. They have one son that lives in Norman and two beautiful granddaughters.

New Life News: ReRe Lunsford

ReRe was raised in Norman, OK and has been faithful to this town for many years. From a young age, her parents played important roles in her spiritual development. Even after they divorced when she was 3 years old, she describes them as being great co-parents and people that both feared and loved the Lord so much. She remembers Sunday mornings being filled with gospel music and teaching about the importance of believing in a sovereign God. Her mom helped her understand that we were never promised an easy life but one in which God will always provide and take care of us. She didn’t have the best experience with church growing up, but when she began to attend New Life during her teenage years, she realized why people actually love going to church and how beautiful God’s bride can be. In her early 20’s, she gave her life to the Lord and was baptized. During this time, ReRe met her husband, James, at New Life and they were married after she graduated from OU with a degree in Journalism. In 2006, ReRe’s world was completely turned upside down when her mother passed away. The person who had been one of her closest friends and role models was taken from her, and she remembers telling her husband that she’ll miss being happy because she didn’t think she’d ever truly be happy again. Grief came in waves, often times leaving her with deep feelings of despair as she longed for her mother’s presence. Looking back on the few years after her mom passed away, she gives all the glory to God for providing her the strength to continue to move forward. She and her husband began to build their family with the addition of their two sons, and God consistently showed up to provide joy in the midst of seemingly hopeless and desperate circumstances. Life continued day by day, and even 14 years later, she still misses her mom and wishes things had turned out differently. Yet, God used this huge trial in her life to strengthen her faith and draw her closer to Himself. This valley has allowed her to be someone that possesses deep empathy for those around her and has served to increase her dependence in a good God. She’ll never forget the lessons her mother left her with about how there is something so much greater that is promised to us when we give our lives over to God and allow Him to be King. Now as a mother, she seeks to teach the same things about God and his faithfulness even when life isn’t perfect to her two boys. After a few years of stepping out of the church, she and her husband’s transition back to New Life has been one of the biggest blessings for their family, and now they faithfully serve out of a love for God and His people.

ReRe is currently an adjunct professor at OU, and you can find her during the weeknights loving on her two boys and their 16 snakes. 

New Life News: Shayne Lester

Shayne was raised in Shawnee, Oklahoma where he attended the Liberty Christian Academy from 5th-12th grade. Although he professed to his pastor at the age of 7 that he wanted to accept Jesus into his heart, he would say that he truly gave his life to the Lord at the age of 12 after discussing the true meaning of the gospel message with his aunt and uncle. Through his parents divorce when he was 10, he remained faithfully involved in the church during middle school and high school, and upon graduation, his pastor encouraged him to attend Oklahoma Baptist University to study Pastoral Ministry. In his early 20’s, Shayne met and later married Roxy, his wife of 32 years. This began the process of merging lives with both Roxy and her son while learning how to lead a family and love his wife. During their early years of marriage, Shayne was also navigating his new position at Liberty church as their book keeper. While he was on staff at Liberty, his family struggled with the burdens of life in full-time vocational ministry, and after 10 years of faithfully serving, Shayne felt called to step down from his position and become a Certified Financial Planner. It was in this season that Shayne and his family took a step back from church. Shayne recalls that, “While I was out of the church, I didn’t feel like my faith wavered, yet I didn’t feel completely fulfilled either. I knew something was missing.” He was reminded that without being surrounded by God’s people and chasing Jesus together, it’s difficult to feel complete. After 15 years of serving in a financial advising position, he was abruptly let go from his role and forced to look elsewhere for employment. This unexpected release was actually what brought him back to the church and led him to New Life. He immediately fell in love with the church and began attending regularly with his family. While he was in the process of starting his own financial advising business, he came alongside the current staff at New Life to help them with their finances and lead the renovation of the current building. Shayne soon realized how important the church is and decided to fully commit to this body of believers and make New Life his home. When asked who some of the most spiritually influential people in his life have been, he quickly talks about the pastor at Liberty who helped him become a man of God and learn how to serve God’s people. He also talks very highly of his wife Roxy and how she’s been an anchor over the years as she consistently points him back to the Lord through both the good and the bad.